Refugio Gomez, convicted of the murder of Estefan Dimas, was hung to death on the grounds of the Duval County jail on June 6, 1884. Gomez had nothing to say after the sheriff read the sentence in English and someone translated it to Spanish.
The murder occurred the year before, the appeals court upheld the conviction in January 1884, and the district judge passed the formal sentence in May. San Diego, said the Corpus Christi newspaper, would have a “legal” hanging. As opposed to the illegal hangings that occurred from time to time.
Not actual hanging in the blog
just a typical hanging of the times.
The hanging was quite an event. Shortly after midnight, the San Diego Gun Club marched into the jail yard and took position around the scaffold. Father Pedro Bard escorted Gomez out of the jailhouse and stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Jailers removed his irons and Gomez climbed the gallows. At 12:20, the drop fell six feet to the ground. Gomez made a few convulsive motions with his legs, his chest heaved and his neck broke. Doctors Wright and Hanelley declared him dead 25 minutes later.
The jailers cut his body down and gave it to Gomez’s friends for burial.
A large crowd was present for the gruesome show, but was quiet and orderly throughout the entire ordeal.
A newspaper reporter spent some time with Gomez a few days before the hanging and heard the killer’s life story. Gomez was a native of Tullas, Tamaulipas, Mexico and grew up in Vera Cruz. He claimed to have killed eight men, five in Texas and three in Mexico. His Texas victims included Dimas in San Diego, a Mexican in Laredo, two Mexicans between Cotulla and Mancha Station, and B. Schwartz, a rich pawnbroker in San Antonio.
The reason he killed Dimas, Gomez said, was that the latter had cursed him. After meeting in Laredo, Dimas had agreed to be Gomez’s partner. The two came to San Diego to attend the fiestas. Gomez said he gave Dimas $30 and later in the day gave him another $25 and a false key and other appliances used to commit burglaries. Gomez became upset with Dimas because he got drunk. Gomez informed his new partner that he did not conduct business that way and for him to stop drinking. Dimas responded by calling him a despicable name to which Gomez responded by calling Dimas out to a walk and have a talk with him but instead shot him.